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North Korea’s Kim attends parade honoring his grandfather | World News

By KIM TONG-HYUNG Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended a massive civil parade in the capital Pyongyang to celebrate the birth anniversary of his state-founding grandfather, in which thousands marched in a choreographed display of loyalty to the Kim family. state media said on Saturday.

Reports made no mention of any speeches or comments made by Kim during Friday’s event and it appeared the country spent its biggest party ever without displaying its military equipment amid rising tensions over its nuclear program.

Commercial satellite images in recent weeks have indicated preparations for a large military parade in Pyongyang, which could take place on April 25, the anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s military, and showcase the most advanced weapons in Kim’s nuclear arsenal. such as intercontinental ballistic missiles.

There is also an expectation that Pyongyang will further intensify its weapons tests in the coming weeks or months, possibly including resuming tests of nuclear explosives or test flying missiles over Japan, as it tries to force a response from the Biden administration, which She is worried about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rivalry with China.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political Cartoons

State media footage showed Kim waving from a balcony overlooking Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather, as huge columns of people carrying red plastic flowers and floats bearing political slogans marched below.

Ri Il Hwan, a Politburo member from the ruling Workers’ Party, called for loyalty during a speech, saying the North Koreans “will always be victorious” under Kim’s guidance. Kim did not appear to make a speech at Friday’s event and state media did not mention any comments toward the United States or rival South Korea.

The parade came hours before thousands of young people staged a mass dance in the plaza as fireworks launched from a nearby riverbank lit up the night sky.

Kim Il Sung’s birthday is the most important national holiday in North Korea, where the Kim family has ruled under a strong cult of personality since the nation’s founding in 1948. This week’s celebrations marking the 110th anniversary of his birth came as his grandson revives brinkmanship in nuclear policy aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of ​​North Korea as a nuclear power and remove crippling economic sanctions.

North Korea opened 2022 with a slew of weapons tests, including its first ICBM flight test since 2017. The South Korean military has also spotted signs North Korea is rebuilding tunnels at a test range. weapons that he partially dismantled weeks before Kim’s first summit with Kim. then-President of the United States, Donald Trump, in June 2018.

Kim Jong Un’s defiant displays of military might are also likely motivated by domestic politics, experts say, as he otherwise has no significant achievements to announce to his people after a decade in power.

Its stated goals of developing nuclear weapons while simultaneously bringing economic prosperity to its impoverished population were derailed after the failure of its second summit with Trump in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demands for major sanctions relief in return. of a limited release of its nuclear capabilities. . The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a further shock to its broken economy, forcing it to acknowledge last year that the North was facing the “worst situation in its history.”

Sung Kim, the top US official on North Korea, is scheduled to visit South Korea next week to discuss the international community’s response to the North’s recent missile tests.

North Korea has recently resumed its characteristic tough rhetoric against its rivals. One of its international affairs commentators called US President Joe Biden “a senile old man,” while Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong called South Korea’s defense minister “a scumbag guy” and threatened to annihilate South Korea with nuclear attacks. .

“Kim Jong Un’s stated goal of deploying tactical nuclear weapons, Kim Yo Jong’s recent threats to Seoul, and satellite images of tunnel activity in Punggye-ri all point to an upcoming nuclear test,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “Additional missile launches are also expected to refine weapons delivery systems.”

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